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Our top stories of 2019

By Bob Conrad
A homeless encampment with the Reno city skyline behind it.
Ty O'Neil's 2019 image from the Reno Rodeo was named one of the top-100 images of the year by My Modern Met.
Ty O’Neil’s 2019 image from the Reno Rodeo was named one of the top-50 images of the year by My Modern Met.

What a year. This Is Reno in 2019 saw record website visits, increased social media engagement and productive partnerships with other local media sources. We are grateful to our partners — KWNK Community Radio, Reno Public Radio and the Reno News and Review — for sharing our work and helping us contribute to their platforms.

We are also honored to be a growing independent news source for the Reno community. This year, we celebrated 10 years in operation. We received in December an official proclamation from the City of Reno and Mayor Hillary Schieve. 

Reno Rodeo coverage featured in PetaPixel.
Reno Rodeo coverage featured in PetaPixel.

Our work — particularly Ty O’Neil’s photography — was featured in the above media sources, in addition to National Geographic online, My Modern Met and PetaPixel.

We held our first member meeting for our subscribers and supporters. We were an award finalist at the national Local Independent Online News Publishers conference in Nashville, and I spoke on a panel about how readers can help sustain independent news operations.

We also held an exhibit of our photojournalism from the past few years, thanks to support from Artown and The Wilbur D. May Center. 

Most importantly, This Is Reno continues to regularly break news about local issues and events. These stories reached more than a half million unique visitors in 2019 with most readers coming directly to thisisreno.com and through online searches.  

Here are our top eight stories for the year, in order. These do not include sponsored or paid stories, some of which also topped our charts; nor does it include submitted opinions, which also generated significant discussion.

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1. El Salvadoran Restaurant closes

Kyle Young broke the story about Reno’s El Salvadoran restaurant closing. The piece, and its follow-up story, reached readers from around the West Coast.

El Salvador Restaurant
Image: Kaitlin Young.

2. Washoe County School District melts down

“It’s business as usual.”

School Board Trustee Katy Simon Holland

Washoe County School District’s foibles dominated reader interest in 2019. From clandestine firings, low-employee morale, lying to the news media, making veiled legal threats against critics and former Superintendent Traci Davis’ dramatic firing, the school district heads into 2020 facing a handful of lawsuits. Nine stories about the district were in our top-20 for 2019. Here are the top five:

  1. Top administrators gone from school district
  2. School District closing admin buildings in fear of Superintendent Davis coming to Work
  3. School District faces more allegations of employee mistreatment
  4. Traci Davis: ‘We’re going to court’
  5. School District dustup raises questions (subscriber content)
Superintendent Traci Davis and Board President Katy Simon Holland. Image: Ty O'Neil.
Superintendent Traci Davis and Board President Katy Simon Holland. Images: Ty O’Neil.

3. City drops LIME bikes

LIME’s unceremonious removal of its green bikes from the Biggest Little City was one of the more popular stories of the year. The company left a bad taste in the city’s mouth after its bikes were quickly found dumped in the river and, generally, determined to be problematic. LIME complained that Reno had the most destruction and vandalism of its bikes of any city, but when LIME shut down operations, the company just dumped its bikes at a local recycling facility anyway, saying they simply could not be donated or reused.

Image: Bob Conrad

4. Geothermal plant expands

Ormat’s expansion, reported by veteran business journalist, John Seelmeyer, was the first local report of the company’s new geothermal plant.

Google Earth image.

5. Marijuana DUI data

Marijuana legalization in the Silver State has led to a rise in cannabis-related DUIs. The prevalence of cannabis, better training, the cost of testing and more DUI officers explain the rise in these numbers.

6. Toolmaker Makita’s new North Valleys warehouse

Toolmaker Makita’s new warehouse in the North Valleys drew significant reader interest, but few news media reported on the story. So here it is.

7. County commissioner violates conduct, harassment policies

County Commissioner Kitty Jung got in trouble — again. Members of Reno’s progressive and LGBTQ+ community called for her resignation — and for local progressives to denounce her violating county harassment policies. Jung, after previously praising This Is Reno’s reporting, refused to respond to requests for comment. She remains in office.

Kitty Jung, incumbent for district 3.
Kitty Jung, county commissioner. Image: Bob Conrad.

8. Homelessness in the Biggest Little City

The threat to “arrest” the homeless drew a lot of attention this past fall. Here’s one story about a complex issue that likely is not going away anytime soon.

Homeless encampments on the Truckee River. Image: Trevor Bexon.l
Image: Trevor Bexon.

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